For Russia, this is not the time to lose any of the few allies it has left after the invasion of Ukraine. In an attempt to preserve some loyalties to her geopolitical interests, she will allow Cuba’s communist regime to pay the $2.3 billion it owes in 2027.
The State Duma -Lower House of Parliament- ratified that Havana will have five more years of grace to settle its pending accounts with Moscow, establishing four new protocols for intergovernmental credits granted to the Castro regime in 2009 and 2017 for the financing of energy projects, metallurgical and transportation.
According to Directorio Cubano, Vladimir Putin’s Deputy Finance Minister, Alexei Sazánov, specified that the term for the payment of Cuba’s debt to Russia will expire on December 15, 2027, with an additional 11 million dollars as interest. The decision responds to a request that the Miguel Díaz-Canel regime submitted to the Kremlin last September, alleging “simultaneous geopolitical and economic difficulties” derived from the pandemic.
Lies between allies
The arguments that Cuba presents to Russia to justify the delay in the payment of the debt are debatable when the regime makes the absurd investment of 1,500 million dollars in expanding the hotel capacity of the island, leaving aside that the income of tourists fell 87% and that 70% of the population lives below the poverty line.
The Kremlin is not here to discuss. Already in 2014 he forgave him a debt of 30 billion dollars accumulated during the Soviet era. Now his attention is elsewhere. The 27 countries that make up the European Union, along with the United States and Canada, blocked flights to and from Russia. Getting to the Estonian capital, Tallinn, went from requiring a 90-minute flight from Moscow to requiring a 12-hour crossing.
After three months of relentless bombing of Ukraine, Russia is not the same, and that is little evidence.
“Now we see the deterioration of the economy in a wide variety of sectors. The companies warn that they are running out of stock of spare parts. Many companies put their employees to work part-time and others warn them that they have to close completely. So there is a real fear that unemployment will rise during the summer months and that there will be a big drop in consumption and retail sales and investment,” said Chris Weafer, an analyst for the Russian economy.
That situation projects a debacle for Russia. Its Ministry of Economy admitted that inflation will close this year at 17.5%, capital investments will fall 19.4%, real income will fall 6.8% and unemployment will increase to 6.7%.
All figures will generate an economic contraction of 7.8% in 2022. The number is fateful. It coincides with the biggest decline in the Russian economy – 7.8% recorded in 2009 – since Putin came to power in 2000. The pressure calms the fury of his speech. In telephone contact with the Prime Minister of Italy, Mario Draghi, he said that he is willing to contribute to the resolution of the international food crisis through the export of grains.